Speedway Digest Staff
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Phoenix International Raceway President Bryan R. Sperber announced today that ServiceMaster Clean and ServiceMaster Restorewill be the title sponsor of the track’s November NASCAR Nationwide Series race. The ServiceMaster 200 marks the first race entitlement for ServiceMaster in NASCAR.
The ServiceMaster 200 will be the featured event for the third day of PIR’s November race weekend. With the Nationwide Series title on the line, the green flag will drop on the ServiceMaster 200 at Noon EST/ 2 p.m. MST on Saturday, November 9.
“We are delighted to welcome ServiceMaster to Phoenix International Raceway as the title sponsor of our Nationwide event,” said Sperber. “We are tremendously proud to be associated with such a great company.”
“The ServiceMaster 200 is an exciting opportunity for ServiceMaster to engage with the customers we serve each day,” said Eric Eurich, vice president of marketing for ServiceMaster Clean. “Phoenix International Raceway is a model for delivering best-in-class racing experiences. We share that passion and believe this race sponsorship will communicate the company’s breadth of services and a commitment to the complete customer experience.”
As the official sponsor of the yellow flag caution period for International Speedway Corporation and PIR, track personnel and the track-drying equipment display the ServiceMaster Clean brand which can be seen frequently cleaning the race track, removing debris, and drying the track quickly and professionally in order to restart the race.
Not only are ServiceMaster Clean and ServiceMaster Restore market leaders in cleaning and disaster restoration with more than 60 years of experience but also are business units of the ServiceMaster family of brands. ServiceMaster is one of the world’s largest residential networks, featuring other household names such as Terminix, TruGreen, American Home Shield, Merry Maids, Furniture Medic and AmeriSpec.
Aric Almirola showed improvement in his road course skills earlier this season at Sonoma Raceway when he finished eight spots better than his previous best finish. This weekend, Almirola looks to continue that progression at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. He will be driving the No. 43 Smithfield Ford this weekend and leaning on teammate and two-time winner at the Glen, Marcos Ambrose.
Almirola scored his best Sprint Cup road course finish at the New York track last season. He also tallied his career-best road course finish in the NASCAR Nationwide series at the Glen with an eighth-place finish in the 2011 event.
No. 43 Crew Chief Todd Parrott won the last two events at Watkins Glen with Ambrose at the helm and has compiled one pole, four top-five finishes and five top-10 finishes in 15 starts.
Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:
"You can't compare Watkins Glen and Sonoma at all. Sonoma is like the Martinsville of road courses, and then when you go to Watkins Glen, it's like Charlotte. It's just so much faster. The speed that we carry at Watkins Glen is unbelievable. It's a fun road course. It's just extremely fast. Sonoma is really slow and technical. Watkins Glen is wide open.
"I enjoy road racing. I wish I was better at it. Everyone enjoys something they are good at. The better I get at road racing, the more I learn from Marcos, the more I enjoy it. Going back to Watkins Glen, I'm really looking forward to seeing the difference from last year. Each time I go to a road course, I get a little more comfortable, so track time will be really important to do well in the race. My goal is to learn as much as I can, stay on the track and beat my best finish there."
Comments from Smithfield Ford Fusion Crew Chief Todd Parrott:
"Aric has shown a lot of improvement on road courses this year. We had a really good test at Sonoma where he logged a ton of laps. That carried through for the race, and he posted his best finish at the track. The key for him will be to get some good track time during practice, and having a teammate like Marcos (Ambrose) will really help us. We will be able to lean on the No. 9 team with our setups and then dial them in for Aric. If he can get a good rhythm for the race, I'm confident he will do well on Sunday."
The past two years, Marcos Ambrose and the No. 9 Stanley Racing team of Richard Petty Motorsports have closed down Watkins Glen International while celebrating in Victory Lane. Ambrose is the defending two-time winner at the road course in Upstate New York and is looking for a three-peat this weekend.
Ambrose looks to be the first driver since Denny Hamlin to three-peat at the same track. Hamlin accomplished the feat in 2009 and 2010 at the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
With five total NASCAR wins at Watkins Glen, Ambrose is always a threat at the track. He has three wins in the Nationwide Series at The Glen to go with his two Cup victories. In Sprint Cup competition, Ambrose will be making his sixth start at the track. His average finish is second in his five previous starts and has lowest finish is third.
Ambrose will welcome Canadian Tire on the hood of the No.9 this weekend.
Comments from Stanley Ford Fusion Driver Marcos Ambrose:
"Obviously, we feel like we are contenders each time we go to Watkins Glen, and this weekend is no different. I just know what I want in the car, and we have been fortunate enough to get that feel in our Stanley Ford Fusions the past two races. That allows me to race up front, and I have a lot of confidence. Watkins Glen is a really fast track, and I really enjoy it. I know what I need to do to be there at the end.
"Last year was a really great finish. It was stressful, but a lot of fun to battle against Kyle and Brad the last few laps for the win. We were dealing with the elements of the track having oil on it, and we were all sliding all around. It led to an exciting finish, and I'm happy that we came out on top.
"We have had a tough season this year, but this race can very quickly turn it around and put us in contention for a wild card berth in the chase. That's what our goal is right now. We haven't given up, and this entire crew keeps fighting hard. I'm proud to be associated with this Richard Petty Motorsports team, and hopefully, we can continue our streak at Watkins Glen this weekend."
Comments from Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer on Ambrose at The Glen:
"This is a track where Marcos makes it very easy on me. He knows what he wants in the car all the way down to the steering wheel and shifter ball. It's just a matter of listening and making the changes Marcos wants. It's really fun to work a road course with him. You learn so much. He just doesn't care what others are doing. He really is the leader in the Cup garage when it comes to setting up a car here.
"I feel that this is a weekend that can really turn everything around for us. We can climb into the top-20 in points and be there for a wild card berth. This team has been in that position the last two years, and hopefully, we can be in position again. Then, we can go for more wins and hopefully make the chase."
David Ragan's most recent finish at Watkins Glen International (August 2012) was also his career best, and he'll look to top that result one year later as the Sprint Cup Series heads back to the 2.45-mile road course in New York's Finger Lakes region.
Ragan earned a 22nd-place finish in his first Watkins Glen start in a Front Row Motorsports Ford one year ago, topping his previous five starts at the track. The driver of the No. 34 Taco Bell Ford cites mastering the course's "Inner Loop" turn as a key to a good finish at The Glen. The bus stop chicane at the end of the backstretch provides opportunities for both passing and wrecking. The No. 34 team will look to stay "in the loop" to use it to an advantage in Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen.
Comments from Taco Bell team driver David Ragan heading to Watkins Glen:
"The two road courses we race on are pretty different. Some of the parts and pieces on your road course cars from Sonoma and Watkins Glen are the same, and you can get a true test from one track to the other. But as far as driving techniques and handling, it's really different. Watkins Glen is such a fast racetrack. Our Front Row Motorsports team enjoys going to the road courses. It gives us a chance to play some strategy and have an opportunity at a great finish.
"The road races in the Sprint Cup Series have really gotten super competitive. I think there's 20 guys that can have a shot to win. We've seen a lot of road course first-time victories in the last couple years. The Glen is a fun track and a challenging track. We'll look to get up to speed on Friday and have a nice clean race on Sunday.
"The Inner Loop is tough. You've got a really fine line with how aggressive you can be. You can lose or gain a lot of time getting out of the Inner Loop, setting yourself up for that squeezing right-hander. That's a good passing zone to get out of that corner fast. But you can't overshoot it. You can't knock your splitter off running through the curves and the dirt and the grass. It's very unique and it's a tough corner, but it's fun. I know that there's a lot of fans who always sit around on top of their motorhomes on that Inner Loop, and they're seeing some action every single lap."
The Sprint Cup Series takes its Gen-6 car to Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International for the first time this weekend, but David Gilliland already has plenty of laps under his belt on the 2.45-mile road course. The No. 38 Long John Silver's team tested at the track last week to prepare for the series' second road race of the year.
The team worked on a new brake package during the two-day session at The Glen, where high speeds and tight turns call for the ability to stop on a dime for 90 laps. The knowledge gained from the test, combined with Gilliland's road-course racing abilities and crew chief Frank Kerr's successful track record at the venue, has the team going to Watkins Glen with confidence.
The Cheez-It 355 at The Glen will be Gilliland's sixth start on the course. He earned his best result last year when he finished 20th.
Comments from Long John Silver's team driver David Gilliland heading to Watkins Glen:
"The two road courses we go to are definitely very different. Watkins Glen is a very high-speed, less technical track. Sonoma's definitely more technical. They're very different courses that require different approaches and different styles of driving. But we feel prepared, even though we haven't raced at The Glen yet this year and you can't carry a whole lot over from Sonoma.
"We tested there last week and had two good days on track there. We tried some new brakes there that I think are going to help our program. Frank Kerr, my crew chief, has run well there in the past, and we're excited about the race. I enjoy road racing, so going to Watkins Glen is something that's definitely marked on our calendar with a star.
"The Inner Loop (turn on the backstretch) is very difficult. You see a lot of guys going off track there when they're trying to pass. It's one of the passing zones of the racetrack but something that you wish wasn't there. You wish you could go straight through it, but you can't. You've got to go through the turn."
Michael McDowell will bring his extensive road course-racing background to Front Row Motorsports for the Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International race weekend, as he'll get the nod to pilot the No. 35 Dockside Logistics Ford in the Sprint Cup Series' second road race of the season.
McDowell, whose racing career was built on twist-and-turn tracks in the open-wheel and sports-car ranks before moving to stock cars, will compete under the Front Row banner for the first time. The six-year Sprint Cup veteran has raced the 2.45- and 3.4-mile courses of The Glen in multiple series outside of his stock car endeavors, with results that include two top-five and three top-10 finishes in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen will be McDowell's fifth Cup start at the course.
Dockside Logistics' return to the No. 35 Ford comes as the company expands with a new shipping facility in Savannah, Ga. The 175,000-square-foot facility now allows customers shipping options from both Charleston, S.C., and Savannah. Dockside also recently expanded its scope of services to include Export Packaging and Crating.
Comments from Dockside Logistics team driver Michael McDowell heading to Watkins Glen:
"This is a unique opportunity. I'm excited to drive the 35 car. We tested there last week and had a couple good days. Road course races are an opportunity for me to shine a little bit. Even though in the Sprint Cup Series, everybody is very good at it and very competitive. You used to have sort of an uphill battle if you weren't a road course regular, but it definitely feels like less of a disadvantage when you get to the road courses now.
"I've been in NASCAR since 2008 and have had a few opportunities on the road courses, mainly with Joe Gibbs Racing. Jumping into the 18 car in the last couple years allowed me to show my abilities on the road courses. Since then, there has been more development as far as getting opportunities to go test for teams. It's cool, and I'm just happy to be one of the 43 guys who will race the course this weekend.
"I've run a lot of races at Watkins Glen. I ran the Six Hours of The Glen (sports car race) multiple times, short endurance races in prototypes and GT cars. I've run Continental Tire races there. I never did an open-wheel race there. All the series that I ran in never went there. But not counting Sprint Cup, I've probably raced there about 10 times.
"The esses up the hill are definitely a challenge, and the bus stop is fun. It's a good passing opportunity and always brings excitement. I really wish we could run the full course there. It's so much fun. If there's going to be a race where predominantly circle-track guys run well on a road course, it's Watkins Glen. It's less challenging than Sonoma or Road America or Mid-Ohio. So, it kind of balances things out a little more than some of the other road courses."
Starting the 250 lap race from the 24th position, Bliss quickly jumped three spots within the first 15 laps. "I'm having trouble arching it in," said Bliss as he settled into the 20th position on lap 50. As Bliss explained his discomfort, the first caution fell. Bliss took the opportunity to hit pit road where the crew worked tirelessly to improve the conditions of their No. 19 Tweaker Energy Shot Toyota, gaining one spot to 19th as he returned to the track.
Settling in for a long green flag run, Bliss hung on to his loose handling race car. As he and Crew Chief Paul Clapprood discussed their next move, the second caution came out at lap 140. Still trying to tighten up Bliss' Tweaker Energy Shot Toyota, Bliss hit pit road for (include changes made) and the crew sent him back to the track 19th.
With two more opportunities to tighten up their Camry, Bliss and his crew never gave up. Maintaining the 19th position for more than half of the 218.75-mile event, Bliss gained ground on the competition and picked up one spot in the closing laps to finish 18th.
"We made a great effort with what we were dealing with all race long," said Bliss, who claimed his 16th top-20 finish of the season. "I wish we could have earned a better finish for Tweaker. I appreciate my crew, they tried everything to try and balance our car. There was no pleasing it this time."
Cole Whitt and the No. 44 TriStar Motorsports crew welcomed Ferguson back on board their Toyota Camry at Iowa Speedway. Looking to build on their 16th place finish there in June, it appeared that Whitt and his crew started from right where they left off after qualifying 16th for Saturday night's 5th Annual US Cellular 250. Beginning under the mid-western sun and ending under the florescent lights of "America's Place to Race", the 250 lap event produced side-by-side, action packed racing. Whitt who battled a tight car for most of the race, managed to avoid the events four caution flags to claim 20th in his eighth race while driving for TriStar Motorsports.
"My guys worked really hard trying everything they could think of to find a balance in our car," said Whitt. "I greatly appreciate Ferguson coming on board again. I really wish I could have finished better for them."
NASCAR Technical Institute Celebrates 10 Years of Fueling the Industry with Graduates Who Are "Chosen by Industry. Ready to Work. Ready to Race."
NASCAR Technical Institute (NASCAR Tech) is celebrating "10 years of starting careers" as the exclusive educational partner of NASCAR and the first and only technical school in the world to offer a specific NASCAR developed curriculum for those interested in motorsports and/or automotive service careers.
NASCAR Tech is hosting a North Carolina Pit Party from 6:30-8:30 p.m. EDT on Tues., Aug. 6, at its 146,000 square-foot campus in Mooresville.
U.S. Representative Robert Pittenger (R-NC 9th District) will join senior management and other dignitaries from NASCAR and Universal Technical Institute (UTI) in presenting a decade of accomplishments and celebrating the school's more than 5,000 graduates that are successfully employed in the automotive and motorsports industries.
NASCAR Tech was forged out of a unique partnership between UTI and NASCAR to develop a curriculum that provides new generations of technicians to serve NASCAR motorsports and automotive services industries. In addition to the NASCAR-specific programs, the campus offers specialized classes developed by Ford Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. and is proud to claim that 4 out of 5 graduates from NASCAR Tech find employment in careers within their field of study.
"NASCAR Tech sets the standard for how an educational institution can be a great partner to industry, and open up career opportunities for students," said UTI Chief Executive Officer Kim McWaters. "I would like to thank John White, our chairman, for his vision to form this partnership with NASCAR, and recognize NASCAR for being such a tremendous partner, helping us ensure that our students receive the relevant training they need for a successful career in motorsports."
NASCAR Tech is one of 11 campuses operated by UTI, the leading provider of post-secondary education for students seeking careers as professional technicians in the automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle, marine and motorsports industries.At the 10-year celebration, guests will have a chance to meet some of the star drivers from NASCAR and get an up-close look at a few of the actual race cars that run every Sunday in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.
"When NASCAR partnered with UTI more than 10 years ago, we knew this campus was going to be successful in its goal of providing skilled technicians to the automotive and motorsports industries," said Mike Helton, president of NASCAR. "The industry-driven curriculum, state-of-the-art facilities and instructors offered by NASCAR Tech are the best in the country, and are the reason why NASCAR Tech is the official educational partner of NASCAR."
In 2008, the campus started a program that lets NASCAR Tech students actually build engines used in NASCAR racing. About 100 students per year with excellent grades, attendance and professionalism scores participate in the program, which is sponsored by K&N Filters. Last year, Kyle Larson driving for Rev Racing, NASCAR's "Drive for Diversity Team," won the K&N Pro Series Championship with NASCAR Tech, student-built engines. This is a testament to the level of training NASCAR Tech students receive and how prepared they are for careers in motorsports after graduation.
Hertz (NYSE: HTZ) and Penske Racing enter their first NASCAR Nationwide Series race on a road course on August 10 th as defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski takes the No. 22 Hertz Ford Mustang to Watkins Glen International (WGI) track in New York. To help get racing fans to the track, Hertz is offering discounted rates of up to 22% off their Hertz rental when they mention corporate discount number (CDP#): 2222222 at time of reservation.*
"The uniqueness of this course will make for an enjoyable weekend and it will be interesting to have Brad drive the No. 22 Hertz Ford Mustang for the first time on a road course," commented Mark P. Frissora, Hertz Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "The diversion from the oval-shaped track will add an extra element of excitement to the race. We're confident the No. 22 team will excel at this course's differed tasks, mirroring the success they've shown throughout the season."
"Road course racing has become some of the most-exciting racing of the year," commented Penske Racing driver Brad Keselowski. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity to represent Hertz in the No. 22 Hertz Ford Mustang at Watkins Glen. Hertz and Penske Racing have proven to be a great combination so far this season. I'm anxious to make my mark by picking up my first win at Watkins Glen."
Most recently, driver Joey Logano had a first-place finish in the No. 22 Hertz Ford Mustang in the Nationwide Series event at Chicagoland Speedway. The track for this weekend's race, The Cheez-It 335 at the Glen, is one of a few road courses where drivers get to turn both left and right with many twists and turns in both directions and this will be the first time Hertz is represented on a road course. They do so with a No. 22 Penske Racing team that has one win and three top-five finishes in the last three races at WGI.
In January, Hertz and Penske Racing entered a multi-year agreement with Hertz serving as a 2013 primary sponsor for select races on the No. 22 Penske Racing car competing in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series. Hertz will have branding presence on the team's uniforms and equipment as well as on the Nationwide Series car. The No. 22 Hertz Ford Mustang raced this season at Dover International Speedway in the Monster Mile and at Chicagoland Speedway with Penske Racing driver Joey Logano coming in first place as well as at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In addition, Hertz is co-primary sponsor on the No. 22 Ford Fusion in the Sprint Cup Series at the fall race hosted at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Hertz is committed to offering its customers the most technologically innovative products and services available to keep customers "Traveling at the Speed of Hertz." This includes Hertz 'Carfirmations'; 'Gold Choice', which gives Gold members the power to keep the car they reserved or simply choose a different car from the Gold Choice area; and e-Return, with the fastest car rental drop-off that includes an email receipt within hours. These are all complimentary services for Hertz Gold Plus Rewards members, which is currently free to join. In addition, Hertz continues to expand the presence of its ExpressRent Interactive Kiosks that let customers rent a car, with or without a reservation, through a live, face-to-face video kiosk.
* Hertz Racing discount is subject to all applicable terms and conditions and blackout dates may apply.